Archives for posts with tag: folk

maxinefunke20181240“Home Fi” is the title track of a new album by Dunedin musician Maxine Funke. It’s also a great genre name for these audio-vérité recordings.

Finger-picked nylon string acoustic guitar, voice and occasional appearance by an acoustic bass and wheezy, wobbly toy organ is all that’s involved and it’s a perfect combination.

The song-writing is low-key beautiful, the songs unfussy yet rich in detail. The starkness of the recordings, complete with a hint of background hiss, is like the sound recording equivalent of snapshots found in a mildewed photo album in a shed; faded sepia, black & white & colour photos, curling up at the edges; a moment from a timeless time in a placeless place.

If you are familiar with the music of Sibylle Baier, Vashti Bunyan, or contemporary Australian musician Julie Byrne, you will probably already know about Funke and her excellent previous albums “Lace” and “Felt” and if not…  “Home Fi” is a fine starting point.

HEXDay 19 of NZ Music Month comes from Wellington’s doomy spell-casting trio HEX and the self-explanatory “Witches of the Hex”

“Witches of the Hex” is from the 5 track mini-album “Calling to the Universe” which is tagged, with some precision, as ‘pagan, folk, metal’.

There’s a bit more to it than that, as you’ll discover on this song, where they stir in some shoegaze and the sublime Gothic dream-pop of that exultant chorus to add to the power of the concoction.

HEX is GG Van Newtown, Kiki Van Newtown and Liz Mathews. As Kiki explains: ““Calling to the Universe” is heavy, but with lots of layered vocals. Our riffs tend towards Black Sabbath, but our vocals are more like Enya.”

Read more from the Noisey interview here.




Kelsey Lu_Video still

Morning After Coffee was certainly required today, waking up after trying to sleep off the shock and then sorrow last night after learning of David Bowie’s death.

In the spirit of post-Bowie discovery of mavericks operating at the edges of contemporary music, here’s a young Brooklyn, New York musician, Kelsey Lu, stumbled upon by internet happenstance today in amongst all the Bowie eulogising.

I’m not sure if “Morning After Coffee” is folk, jazz, blues or pop. Maybe it’s all of these things. She may channel some of his same uncompromising and adventurous spirit if this song and the other utterly different track on her Soundcloud profile is any indication.

“Morning After Coffee” is a hauntingly minimal song – just cello and voice. It was a good non-Bowie thing to hear today. The video is also an evocative piece of minimal and intriguing visual art in its own right.

I don’t know much about Kelsey Lu, other than she plays the cello, makes dark weird electronica as well and has collaborated with Dev Hynes/ Bloodorange and also Empress Of (she’s one of the backing singer in this video).

Bowie was unique in that he produced what was essentially pop, but which so often blurred lines between not only chart pop of different styles over the year, but also avant-garde/experimental music, pop culture, storytelling, theater, art, film and video, fashion, philosophy & goodness knows what else. And often all in the service of that chart pop song too.

He meant a lot to so many different types of people, over so many generations. The peerless music – what songs they were – re-drew boundaries over many stylistic changes. His multiple identities over the years, particularly his gender-ambiguous 1970s identity and outlandish outsider persona, made a lot of people feel better about being different; being ‘freaks’; being themselves.

There was a lot of the usual “we’ll never see his likes again” stuff too. Which may well be true – particularly if we give up looking and give up believing in others. It’s not that his type of musical genius isn’t still among us. It’s just that it’s not channeled to us now as easily as it was  when Bowie hit his stride in the 1970s and 1980s.

For example, I’d put Bjork in the same company, even though she’s not as widely known. But she’s also had a remarkable longevity as a vital and uncompromising music artist operating both within and beyond mainstream pop, and continues to explore new ways of making her art and has ‘re-invented’ her identity through her music, characters and visuals several times already.

Given the amount of music available to us today – new and old – the stratification of music into so many genres and sub-genres and the diversity of spaces for music to exist and be discovered through today, we’ve got to look harder for the Bowies of today and tomorrow

Don’t give up on the future of music. The possibilities are still endless. It just needs us to believe in that, believe in those still taking music places, and to support them with our attention and interest. It’s what Bowie would want.


Emily Edrosa by Keva Rands

Emily Edrosa by Keva Rands

In the long wait between the first album by Auckland trio Street Chant and the second Street Chant album (which I’m hoping is ‘near’), guitarist/ vocalist Emily Edrosa has been playing solo shows and assembling the self-titled Emily Edrosa EP via DIY recording and cool/ distressed/ inventive samples/ loops/ percussion). It’s great stuff too.

Dragged outside of the power-trio punk snarl assault of Street Chant Emily’s song-writing reveals a dark, bruised introversion expressing itself with wry self-deprecating gallows humour. ‘The Corner of the Party’ confronts, but does so with so much style.

Try another great song from the EP –  ‘Underground’ – a hypnotic standout from Emily’s live solo sets.

Tiny Ruins

Day 30 of the 31 days of May New Zealand Music Month via bandcamp challenge turns down the volume to a whisper. Mainly because my ears are still ringing from mixing a couple of live to air sessions for the mighty voice of Dunedin Radio One 91 FM last night.

Tiny Ruins (real name Hollie Fullbrook, although I guess ‘Tiny Ruins’ is now technically a duo, with Hollie joined by double-bass player and harmony vocalist Cass Basil) has been touring NZ recently promoting the release of a new EP (it’s on 10″ vinyl) called ‘Haunts’. This is the first track “Holes in my Pocket”:

It’s a simple and honest recording, live to tape with Cass and a few other occasional players. It’s also seems quite a bit darker to me than the previous album ‘Some Were Meant for Sea’. In particular, the interpretation of a Peg Leg Howell blues song form the 1920s called “Rolling Mill Blues” is just plain haunted.

Tiny Ruins takes a fairly traditional approach to the acoustic singer-songwriter style. This sounds like something that could have easily come form the golden era of contemporary or popular folk in the 1960s. Hollie’s voice has always reminded me a little of Nick Drake and that voice is perfectly suited to the darkness and melancholy in some of these songs.